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Regina is well known as the home of the iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police training depot. Every member of the RCMP must go through basic training right here in the city. But did you know these quirky and interesting facts about the RCMP?
Royal Canadian Mounted Police didn’t always go by that name. Their origin lies with the North-West Mounted Police established in 1873. They became the RCMP on February 1, 1920.
The red serge is an internationally recognized Canadian icon. Its scarlet colour was chosen in part to help distinguish the new Canadian force (the NWMP) in the 1870s from the blue-clad US Army units but also because of the significance of red coats in the British military. Although the red serge is internationally recognized, most officers wear the blue or brown uniforms on a normal basis.
There’s quite a bit of detail and history in the red serge – which is usually worn for ceremonial purposes. A lot of care is taken in each article of clothing. A few interesting tidbits about their iconic uniform:
Their brown leather riding boots need to be shined for a minimum of 25 hours before they have the appropriate sheen to them.
The trousers aren’t actually black, they’re midnight blue.
The yellow stripe down the legs of the trousers signifies a cavalry history.
The son of Charles Dickens’ (the famous English novelist and social critic) served in the North-West Mounted Police.
The Musical Ride is a formal performance of RCMP officers and their horses in 50 communities across Canada every year. The ride helps fundraise for local charities and non-profits while sharing the RCMP heritage and traditions with the public. The ride consists of a full troop of 32 riders and their horses.
In the mid 1990’s a Canadian crime television show was made about a fictitious member of the RCMP. Due South aired from 1994 to 1999 and the lead actor, Paul Gross, who played main character Benton Fraser, was the highest paid performer in Canadian television history. In its initial year, the TV show was the first Canadian-made series to have a prime time slot on a major US network. It was also popular in the United Kingdom. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show also had a segment featuring a Mountie character named Dudley Do-Right. This character continued on to have his own cartoon from 1969-70 called Dudley Do-Right.
There are more than 28,000 members and employees that are part of the RCMP. The police force is unique in that it is a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body (with the exception of Ontario and Quebec).
Canada is also famous for its brightly coloured bank notes (interesting aside: the Royal Canadian Mint has produced coinage and planchets for over 73 countries). On March 31, 1975 a vignette of the RCMP Musical Ride was featured on the back of the Canadian $50.00 bill in a colour tone “between orchid and claret” – a deep purplish red. The traditional orange colour was felt to be too limited in tonal range. The photograph the design was based on was supplied by the RCMP and was taken by Donald K. Guerrette.
If you want to use the RCMP’s image or likeness, you need to pay a licensing fee. The proceeds from these fees go directly towards community awareness programs. This helps the RCMP regulate and control their image and branding. But in 1995, Walt Disney Co. (Canada) Ltd. (yes, that Disney) was contracted to help set up this licensing program and protect the RCMP’s image from being abused in the commercial marketplace. The contract expired in 2000 and was never renewed as the RCMP now had the experience necessary to protect their own image.
The RCMP Heritage Centre is a not-for-profit organization and museum located in Regina. It was built in 2007 to tell the stories and history of the RCMP. It’s interactive with a variety of galleries and programming and open nearly every day of the year (with the exception of Remembrance Day, Christmas and Boxing Day and Good Friday and Easter Monday).
You can roughly estimate the years of service an officer has dedicated to the RCMP. For every five years on duty, officers receive a star that is sewn on the upper left sleeve of the red serge. There are different ribbons to acknowledge long term service of 20, 25, 30 and 35 years.
How very Canadian – the RCMP badge has a bison head, maple leaves, a crown and scroll. The exact reason why the buffalo head was chosen for the badge is unknown.
Members of the RCMP travel the country in a variety of ways. Not only do they use cars, SUVs and vans but they also use airplanes, boats, and dogsleds (dogsledding was used in the northern territories and was officially retired in March 1969).
There is a statue in commemoration of officers who have died while on duty at depot. All cadets salute this statue as they walk past. Every year on the second Sunday in September, the RCMP holds a National Memorial Service – a tradition that’s been held since the mid-1930s – to honour their fallen comrades. Want to learn more about the RCMP? Visit the RCMP Heritage Centre in person on Dewdney Avenue from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week.
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